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Piles of Panfish

You all know I love ice-fishing.  While folks shuffle around all bundled-up, grumbling about how cold it is, I am grinning from ear-to-ear because it means we’ve got ice and I will be ice-fishing for the next few weeks!  WOO HOO!

However, I have to admit that there is one thing about ice-fishing that makes me cringe every winter–the “catch all they can, and can all they catch” attitude that too many ice anglers tend to have.  Fish are nutritious to eat and pulled through an ice hole and prepared fresh, they are delicious, the best!  We absolutely should maintain a tradition of harvesting some of our catch and enjoying a feast of fresh fish now and then.  But, what bugs me is I still see too many photos of buckets of fish, piles of panfish, and too many anglers going back to hot ice-bites and slaughtering fish day after day, trip after trip.  We have documented tens of thousands of panfish being harvested through the ice from Nebraska waters in just a weekend or two, and over and over we see “hot” perch, bluegill or crappie fisheries fished down in a matter of weeks.  I have said it before, will say it again, “stunted” panfish populations occur a lot less frequently than some anglers like to think; the real problem is panfish populations that are fished down by anglers, ice-anglers.

Now I hear from some that the rules allow this or that, “we ain’t doing anything illegal”, and that may be true.  However, consider that fisheries regulation are always a compromise of biology and politics.  While restrictive harvest regulations, even on panfish, would absolutely be appropriate to produce and maintain quality fishing on some waters, you better believe we cannot implement such regulations if there is a crowd of anglers screaming that they are too restrictive (by the way, “no pain, no gain”).  So, you can expect me to crawl up on this “soap-box” with some frequency:  Angler attitudes have changed a lot in the past thirty years or so, they need to change more, especially on the ice.

For those of you tired of listening to my “preaching”, here is a short video to watch.  Aaron Wiebe of Uncut Angling absolutely nails it in this video.  Watch it!  Do it!


Before you start piling ’em up. . . .


Think about it!


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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